Should You Become a Health Coach? Yes and No

Health coaching is a growing career path and rewarding in so many ways. But before you become a health coach, there are a few things to consider to determine if it’s right for you. I’ve been a certified health coach for over 5 years, let me share some insights and tips.

Health coach sitting on sofa with laptop and notebook.

The Career of Health Coaching

It seems many are intrigued by the fact that I ditched the corporate world and struck out on my own as an online entrepreneur, after becoming a health coach. While some health coaches decide to coach clients individually, others like myself, use their health coaching certification as a jumping off point for creating cookbooks, food products, wellness-centered brands, and online businesses.

Am I a health coach? Yes. Am I a food blogger? And I a YouTuber? Yes. Am I social media influencer? Yes. And depending on which day of the week it is, I may give myself a handful of other titles. Welcome to the world of entrepreneurship.

But becoming a health coach was a pivotal moment for me and the catalyst for starting my business. Today, five years later, Downshiftology is a successful business that reaches over 100 million people a year. And while I no longer coach clients individually, the knowledge that I learned continues to be woven throughout everything I do.

Should You Become a Health Coach?

For the full explanation, watch the video below! 

The short answer is yes and no. There are several good reasons to pursue health coaching, which I highlight below. If these are your driving factors, I think you’ll be happy with the program. But there’s also an important reason why you shouldn’t pursue it.

Yes, if you want to improve your own health

Did you know that many who enroll in health coaching programs have zero desire to create a business? It’s true. They simply want to learn more about nutrition and holistic health to benefit their own wellness and help those around them. It’s preventative medicine at it’s finest.

Trust me, there are things I wish I knew 10 years ago about nutrition, wellness and self-care that may have mitigated my numerous doctor appointments as I was diagnosed with four autoimmune diseases. I’m super thankful that I’m healthy today, but an education in wellness can’t be underscored.

So if you’re interesting in health coaching for your own wellness, you’re not alone.

Yes, if you want to positively impact others and make a career out of it

One of the most rewarding aspects of health coaching is positively impacting clients and helping them reach their goals. But just to clarify (as it does get confusing) health and wellness coaches are NOT dietitians, clinical nutritionists or doctors. They don’t prescribe medicine, order lab tests or provide medical advice. 

Health coaches, similar to athletic coaches or business coaches inspire, motivate and provide a level of accountability. And it’s been proven to be effective. They do this either independently, or working with doctor’s offices as part of their clinical practice. 

Can you make a career out of it? Yes. Absolutely. Media outlets for the last couple of years have mentioned health coaching as an emerging occupational trend, simply based on the needs of society. WebMD and the CDC highlight it as well. In short, the field of health coaching is gaining in popularity, with doctor’s offices even employing health coaches on staff.

Yes, if you want to create a wellness-centered business

It may seems like an oxymoron to obtain a health coaching certification to not coach, but this may in fact be the largest trend. Many people pursue health coaching to have a solid, well-rounded background in nutrition and holistic health, as the basis for other endeavors.

Next time you go to the bookstore, peruse the cookbook aisle. Then, flip to the back and see how many cookbook authors are certified health coaches – a lot! Many health coaches pursue other revenue generation streams like writing books, holding wellness retreats and creating physical or digital products.

Kelly Leveque wrote her wildly popular book, Body Love, after becoming a health coach. And Elizabeth Stein from Purely Elizabeth launched a healthy foods company. Pursuing health coaching can be the jumping off point for numerous wellness-centered businesses, even bricks and mortar businesses like yoga studios and healthy cafes. 

No, if you’re not realistic about the work involved

I’ve talked to numerous people who pursued health coaching with visions of massive wealth dancing through their heads. They do the math of what they could charge: $100/hr x 2080 work hours in a year equals $208K! Unfortunately, those individuals were let down and re-joined the 9-5 game after deciding that it really wasn’t for them.

Yes, you can make good income as a health coach, but it won’t happen overnight and it will take quite a bit of effort. When you finish your certification, clients will not automatically fall into your lap. You’ll have to find them, market to them and work to gain their business. This requires confidence, business skills and marketing savvy.

The health coaching program I attended, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, does provide courses to address this. But even still, it takes time to really find your groove, develop your niche and grow your business. In other words – don’t quit your day job (just yet!).

My recommendation is to build your health coaching career while you still have a steady income stream. Then, once you’ve gained enough momentum in your coaching career, you can choose your future path – whichever path that may be.

More Health Coaching Tips

If you’d like to learn more about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), the health coaching program I attended, you can take a free sample class or download their course curriculum.

This post was originally published Jan 2016, but recently updated. 

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